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Car reviews - Cupra - Sportstourer

Cupra models


We like
Stunning looks, great cabin space, big boot for non-PHEV models, quality materials, likely to be cheaper than Golf R wagon was
Room for improvement
Not confirmed for Australia yet, frustrating bugs with infotainment, PHEV model has a smaller boot space

Could Spain save the hot wagon in Australia?

14 Sep 2023

CUPRA could save the day for fans of fast wagons.

Just a few weeks ago, Volkswagen announced it was ending sales of the Golf wagon, including the brilliant and ballistic Golf R model.

Is it just fortuitous timing that Volkswagen Group decided to host a number of Australian journalists at the Munich motor show with a side-trip to Spain to drive Cupra’s speedy wagon? Probably not – it seems pretty clear that the Group is keen to further differentiate the offerings of each of its brands, and there’s a very good chance that the Cupra Leon Sportstourer will arrive in Australia in 2024, and it’ll probably be the facelifted version that’ll show up alongside the new-look Leon hatch.


The two versions we drove near Barcelona were the high-grade VZe plug-in hybrid and the Golf-R-equivalent VZx. Each of those nameplates will be familiar to Leon hatch shoppers, as they both form part of the range with identical pricing – $61,690 MSRP.


The VZe runs a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine teamed to a six-speed DSG dual-clutch auto, with a 12.8kWh battery pack and electric motor also forming part of the mix, for a resulting maximum combined output of 180kW/400Nm, all through the front tyres. There’s AC charging at up to 3.6kW, and a battery fill is claimed to take 3.5 hours at that rate, while resulting in up to 60km of EV driving range. The official combined fuel consumption figure is a paltry 1.4L/100km, and while that may be possible with a fully charged battery and sedate driving, the test car I drove was indicating 4.2L/100km.


VZx gets a Golf-R-spec grunty 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with up to 228kW and 400Nm, a seven-speed DSG and all-wheel drive, which sets it apart compared to the FWD hatchback. Official consumption is up to 8.6L/100km.


What might Cupra charge for the Sportstourer if confirmed? An educated guess would suggest a start point around $65K would be fitting. That’d make it a chunk cheaper than the defunct Golf R wagon, which went out swinging at $71,990 MSRP.


If green-lit, the standard kit will likely comprise full LED exterior lighting, 19-inch wheels, a 12.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav, digital driver instrumentation and climate control while  leather trimmed seats with front-seat heating could also feature.


The wagon version of the Leon sees big jumps to the cargo capacity on offer. The VZe PHEV steps up from 270 litres to 470L, while the non-hybrid model makes a massive leap from 380L to 620L, even with all-wheel drive accounted for. There’s a space-saver spare on offer in the VZx, but the VZe goes without.


Driving impressions

The VZe and VZx are very different takes on the same theme.


As you probably expect, the VZx – with essentially the same powertrain as the Golf R – is a cracking thing, with an abundance of speed on offer from its punchy petrol engine, super snappy shifts, and loads of traction from the all-wheel drive underpinnings.


I drove it in a mix of scenarios, including urban driving with parking manoeuvres and roundabouts, and it offered that same “I can do anything” feeling that the Golf R wagon had, though like that car, it is begging to be taken out onto a back road.


With either 221kW or 228kW (depending on the market) and 400Nm of torque, this is a speedy thing, with a best possible 0-100km/h claim of just 4.9 seconds.

Things are at their sportiest in Cupra mode, which adds firmness to the suspension, heft to the steering and noise to the cabin by way of a sound generator that warbles nicely under acceleration.


The VZe PHEV is pretty convincing, too, for those keen to drive electric at times, yet it still offers a pretty fun experience for the enthusiast.


But if you’re driving it like a PHEV driver would – or perhaps, should – then you will find there’s a pretty smooth transition between EV driving and petrol motoring, and the combination of the two when you mash the throttle or put the car into Cupra mode really does make you realise that the future could be fun, even if it’s not only powered by dinosaur juice.


The six-speed DSG is quick and smooth, too, with the electric motor taking over matters at low speeds in most situations which largely eliminates lag, and there’s regenerative braking and a somewhat touchy pedal response that might take some getting used to.


The VZe is a bit more comfort-focused, offering a spongier suspension tune and, because it has more weight to contend with, it isn’t as encouraging to throw around in corners as the VZx. But the steering is light and fun enough, and it’s easy to ‘live’ with the car in the typical scenarios most buyers might find themselves in.


One thing I noted in both of the vehicles I drove was that this MQB-based small wagon exhibits some of the noisiness in the cabin seen in other products built on the underpinnings, meaning if you drive on rougher road surfaces it can really make for a loud environment in the cabin, especially as the wagon body’s interior ‘booms’ more than the hatch.


Further, the infotainment system on the test vehicles was painful at times, repeatedly losing connection with Apple CarPlay (not great when you’re in Spain and don’t know where you’re going).


However, those gripes aside, the Cupra Leon Sportstourer seems like it could be the ideal gap-filler, if it finds its way to Australia.


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